The establishment of the cotton council, which will act as a regulatory and policy body to guide the sector’s operations, is on course, an expert has said.
Cotton expert Duncan Warren has said having a cotton council and a review of the archaic cotton Act will help to create order in the sector.
He said the council, as a regulatory body, will put cotton players on check regarding their duties and responsibilities, which could create a better environment for the industry to thrive.
“We are optimistic that once everything is in place and the council is fully operational, some petty issues that are currently surrounding the cotton sector will come to an end,” said Warren.
In the meantime, a board to govern the council has been appointed while a secretariat, which will run the operations of the council is yet to be established.
Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza, in an interview on the development in the cotton sector, said government is yet to finalise discussions with cotton industry players on the council establishment.
He, however, said the authority to run the council as stipulated by the law was already handed over to the board, which has the mandate to transact business.
“We held talks with the board and cotton players in March this year on the development. Meanwhile, there is space that was identified as a possible office for the council, which will be our contribution to the council.
“We are, however, waiting to hear from them to tell us how they are operating and how else they want us to help the council,” he said.
Cotton, mainly grown by smallholder farmers, is one of the cash crops for about 300 000 farm families and is mostly grown in the Shire Valley and some lakeshore districts of the country.
In the 2011/12 season, the country produced a record 100 000 metric tonnes of cotton before output fell by half to 45 000 metric tonnes in 2012/13 season.
Since then, output has not recovered.